Ottawa says Human Rights Commission discriminated against its Black and racialized employees

Embarrassing, to say the least:

The federal government says the Canadian Human Rights Commission discriminated against its own Black and racialized employees.

The Canadian government’s human resources arm, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBCS), came to that conclusion after nine employees filed a policy grievance through their unions in October 2020. Their grievance alleged that “Black and racialized employees at the CHRC (Canadian Human Rights Commission) face systemic anti-Black racism, sexism and systemic discrimination.”

“I declare that the CHRC has breached the ‘No Discrimination’ clause of the law practitioners collective agreement,” said Carole Bidal, an associate assistant deputy minister at TBCS, in her official ruling on the grievance.

Source: Ottawa says Human Rights Commission discriminated against its Black and racialized employees

Taking Action to Address Potential Barriers in Staffing: Public Service Employment Act amendments receive Royal Assent

Some interesting changes announced by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

I think the change that will have the earliest and largest impact will be Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents having the same preference in external advertised hiring processes.

We will see over the next few years the extent to which this has an impact through the annual EE reports and which groups, given disaggregated data, are impacted most:

Too many Canadians continue to face bias, barriers, and discrimination based on their race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or other factors.

The Government of Canada has amended the Public Service Employment Actto address systemic barriers for equity-seeking groups in public service staffing.

These amendments represent foundational work that will help departments take measures in their staffing actions to reduce barriers and encourage more inclusive recruitment practices. 

Over the past several months, the Treasury Board Secretariat worked with employee networks, bargaining agents and senior officials for Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to better understand the experiences of members of equity-seeking groups in public service staffing.

Amendments to the Public Service Employment Act reaffirm the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and strengthen provisions to address potential bias and barriers in staffing processes.

With these changes:

  • All new or revised qualification standards must be evaluated for bias and barriers for members of equity-seeking groups. 
  • Permanent residents now have the same preference as Canadian Citizens when appointments are made through external advertised hiring processes.
  • The design and application of assessment methods must include an evaluation of bias and barriers, and reasonable efforts for mitigation.
  • The Public Service Commission now has explicit authority to audit for bias and barriers that disadvantage members of equity-seeking groups.
  • The Commission and deputy heads will have explicit authority to investigate bias and barriers for members of equity-seeking groups. 

These Public Service Employment Act amendments form one part of a set of initiatives and activities to increase diversity and inclusion in the public service so that it is reflective of the Canadian population it serves and a place where all public servants feel a true sense of belonging.

The work of eradicating bias, barriers, and discrimination, which have taken root over generations, demands an ongoing, relentless effort. The Government of Canada is committed to this effort and will use all available levers to improve the experiences of public servants in their workplace and ensure that they are able to realize their full potential.


Public servants say they work better from home, despite stress: survey

Interesting (on my to do list, look at the survey’s disaggregated data):

During the pandemic, employees of local, provincial, and federal governments from coast to coast to coast have provided essential services while working from home.

And it would appear that federal employees are happier now about their workplace than they were before the pandemic, according to the 2020 Public Service Employee Survey released by the Treasury Board Secretariat last week.

While we don’t know the full story of the “big pivot” over a single weekend in March 2020 — when public servants started working from home — we do know many have been working over weekends and statutory holidays and forgoing annual leave.

This isn’t sustainable over the long term. If not attended to, such behaviour could result in a crash or organizational failure.

Stress has increased since 2019. A third of employees said they felt emotionally drained after their workday, up from 29 per cent in 2019. Just over a quarter said their workload was heavier, up slightly from 24 per cent in 2019.

However, new questions in the 2020 survey about work-life balance during the pandemic revealed some silver linings:

  • 39 per cent of employees had requested flexible work hours since the start of the pandemic; and
  • 83 per cent said their immediate supervisor allowed them.

Employees said the quality of their work improved, too. For example:

  • only 23 per cent of employees said their work quality suffered because their department or agency lacked stability, which was down from 30 per cent in 2019; and
  • just 24 per cent of employees said their work suffered because of high staff turnover, down from 32 per cent in 2019.

Employees’ perceptions of change management also improved in 2020, with 59 per cent saying change was managed well in their department or agency, compared to 50 per cent in 2019.

They also reported better feedback from their supervisors in 2020, compared to 2019:

  • 69 per cent said they received meaningful recognition for work well done, up from 65 per cent in 2019; and
  • 77 per cent said they got useful feedback from their immediate supervisor about their job performance, up from 74 per cent in 2019.

Overall job satisfaction improved in 2020, too:

  • 83 per cent of employees said they liked their job, up from 81 per cent in 2019;
  • 78 per cent reported getting a sense of satisfaction from their work, up from 76 per cent in 2019;
  • 75 per cent said they were satisfied with their department or agency, up from 71 per cent in 2019;
  • 75 per cent said they would recommend their department or agency as a great place to work, up from 70 per cent in 2019; and
  • 71 per cent of employees said they felt valued at work, up from 68 per cent in 2019.

Respondents also felt their workplace was “psychologically” healthier. For example:

  • 68 per cent said their workplace was psychologically healthy, up from 61 per cent in 2019; and
  • 81 per cent said their department or agency was doing a good job of raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, up from 73 per cent in 2019.

In response to a new question in 2020, 69 per cent of employees said they’d feel comfortable sharing concerns about their mental health with their immediate supervisor.

The survey included new questions about working during the pandemic:

  • 70 per cent said senior managers were taking adequate steps to support their mental health during the pandemic;
  • 84 per cent felt their department or agency was effectively communicating the mental-health services and resources available to them; and
  • 81 per cent said they were satisfied with the measures their department or agency was taking to protect their physical health and safety during the pandemic.

Employees were also asked about the information they received from their department or agency about the pandemic:

  • 78 per cent said it was clear and easy to understand;
  • 81 per cent said it was consistent with the information they got from their immediate supervisor; and
  • 92 per cent said the information was available in both official languages.

And finally, instances of harassment also fell. In 2020, 11 per cent of employees said they’d been harassed on the job in the previous 12 months, down from 14 per cent in 2019. In addition, 71 per cent said their department or agency worked hard to create a workplace that prevents harassment, up from 69 per cent in 2019.

So while the pandemic isn’t over, public servants remain engaged. It would appear that working from home and away from the office has improved their view of the workplace and of their senior managers.

Stephen Van Dine is the senior vice-president of public governance at the Institute on Governance.

Source: Public servants say they work better from home, despite stress: survey

Trudeau government considers legislative changes to make public service more diverse

Of note. The most significant aspects IMO are:

  • ongoing improvements in data (the disaggregated data for visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities is incredibly useful);
  • the push for increased diversity among executives is buttressed by the DM performance commitment on diversity and inclusion;
  • review of the Employment Equity Act and representation benchmarks (review of the Act will likely generate some debate from all quarters although it’s approach of self-identification and annual reporting has resulted in increased in ongoing increased representation of the EE groups);
  • Review of the Public Service Employment Act and possible amendments to reduce systemic barriers (unclear what that will entail): and,
  • It remains to see how effective the various consultation and related initiatives such as the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion will be in affecting change.

For my analysis of disaggregated data see my What new disaggregated data tells us about federal public service … and What the Public Service Employee Survey breakdowns of visible minority and other groups tell us about diversity and inclusion:

The Trudeau Liberals are eyeing changes to the law governing public service hiring to help make federal departments and agencies more diverse.

They also plan to do further research on the makeup of the federal public service and will try to hire more senior leaders with varied backgrounds.

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos and his parliamentary secretary, Greg Fergus, are spelling out the priorities today to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service.

The government says while there has been some progress for Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples and others who face racial discrimination in the workplace, too many public servants continue to face obstacles.

The Treasury Board Secretariat has begun discussions about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at “possible amendments” to the Public Service Employment Act.

The act is intended to ensure federal hiring is fair, transparent and representative.

The move would complement a review of the Employment Equity Act planned by Labour Minister Filomena Tassi.

The government recently released data that provides more detail about the composition of the public service.

Duclos and Fergus say the annual public service employee survey will help the government identify more precisely where gaps remain and what is needed to improve representation.

The government plans to increase diversity through promotion and recruitment, including introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who might currently face barriers.

The government says although progress will take time, the public service can be a model of inclusion for employers across the country and around the world.

“In time, we will build a public service that is the true reflection of our pluralism and diversity,” Duclos said in a statement.

Just last week, Privy Council Clerk Ian Shugart issued a call to action on anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the public service, setting out federal expectations for current leaders.

The government has also launched the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, supported by a budget of $12 million, to create an ongoing discussion about change.

“There is much to do before all public servants can feel they truly belong in a public service that values inclusiveness and differences,” Fergus said.

“Outlining these key areas of focus is a key step in taking concrete action.”

Source: Trudeau government considers legislative changes to make public service more diverse

And the TBS announcement of the government’s strategy of January 26:

The public service has long made diversity and inclusion a core value and continuously reflects on the treatment of Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, and other individuals who face racial discrimination and other barriers in the workplace, and who are often underrepresented at the most senior levels of the public service. While there has been progress, too many public servants continue to face obstacles. It is time to close the gaps and eliminate the barriers that remain, ensuring the public service is truly representative of the people it serves.

The President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, along with Greg Fergus, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, has announced the government’s priorities to foster greater diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the public service. Among these efforts, there are several key initiatives:

Generating and publishing data for a more accurate picture of representation gaps

Already, the government has released disaggregated datasets, providing first‑ever views into the composition of public service employees who self‑identify in Employment Equity sub-groups, such as Black or Métis for example.

The annual Public Service Employee Survey, now underway, will generate data and insights to better understand the workforce at even more detailed levels. The results will help us identify more precisely, in particular demographic or occupational groups for instance, where gaps remain and what actions are required to improve representation. 

Increasing the diversity of the senior leaders of the public service

Departments, supported by the Treasury Board Secretariat, will work to increase diversity among senior leaders of the public service and establish a culture of inclusiveness that will combat racism and address systemic barriers. This includes increasing representation through promotion and recruitment and the introduction of the Mentorship Plus Program to allow departments to offer mentoring and sponsorship opportunities to high-potential employees who may currently face barriers. 

Ensuring appropriate benchmarks

The Treasury Board Secretariat will continue to work closely with partners, which includes supporting Employment and Social Development Canada on the review of the Employment Equity Act, to ensure that the public service applies appropriate benchmarks for diversity. 

Addressing systemic barriers

The Treasury Board Secretariat has initiated discussions with key stakeholders about the framework for recruitment in the public service and is specifically looking at possible amendments to the Public Service Employment Act and to support the review the Employment Equity Act, planned by the Minister of Labour.  

In addition to these initiatives, on January 22, 2021, the Clerk of the Privy Council and Head of the Public Service, issued a Call to Action on anti-racism, equity and inclusion in the federal public service. The Call to Action sets out common expectations for leaders to take practical actions that will form the basis for meaningful change.

Engagement, and education will underpin all this work. To that end, the President of the Treasury Board and his Parliamentary Secretary held a roundtable last week with employee communities and stakeholder groups that continue to face barriers to representation and inclusion. And the Government of Canada recently launched the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion. The Centre, supported by a budget of $12M outlined in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, will co-develop initiatives with these communities, leveraging the lived experiences of public servants to foster an ongoing dialogue for positive change. At the same time, the Canada School of Public Service is refreshing its diversity and inclusion curriculum and has launched an Anti-Racism Event Series.

Progress will take time. But concrete steps in these areas will bring the public service closer to its goal: to be more reflective of Canada and a model of inclusion for employers across the country and around the world. 


Citizenship Program: Results Highlights

A quick look at the IRCC citizenship program results posted on the TBS site indicates the following:

  • 95 percent satisfied with the service received;
  • Only 65 percent of applications processed within the 12 month service standard (target is 80 percent). Don’t believe IRCC has ever met this standard, reflecting perennial structural and financial issues with the program.
    • Departmental explanation: “In 2019–20, a total of 65% of citizenship grant applications were processed within the 12-month service standard. The absolute volumes of citizenship applications continue to increase year after year. The number of citizenship applicants who became Canadian citizens has increased by 118%, from 112,969 in 2017–18 to 247,139 in 2019–20. Growing application volumes have strained the operational processing model causing increased processing times. The citizenship applications process is heavily paper-based and relies on manual data entry. The program is also facing a large increase in demand and the current funding levels are outpaced by application volumes. The program is exploring ways to transform the processing model to increase speed and efficiency and develop digital tools for improved client service.”
  • 86 percent of eligible permanent residents have become Canadian citizens. As I have mentioned repeatedly, the performance measure is based upon the total number of immigrants who became citizens, whether they arrive 5 or 50 years ago, and hence is meaningless as a performance indicator. A real performance indicator would use the percentage of recent immigrants who have become citizens, those who immigrated to Canada in the past Census period (5 to 9 years):
    • “Rationale: Canada’s immigration model encourages newcomers to naturalize (become citizens) so that they can benefit from all the rights of citizenship and fully assume their responsibilities, thereby advancing their integration. Take-up rates are considered a proxy that illustrates to what extent permanent residents value Canadian citizenship. Calculation / formula: Numerator: Permanent residents in Canada who are eligible to acquire Canadian citizenship and self-report on the Census that they have acquired Canadian citizenship. Denominator: Permanent residents in Canada who are eligible to acquire Canadian citizenship. Data Source: Statistics Canada’s Census Baseline: 2016: 85.8% Definitions: Naturalization: The Census instructs individuals who have applied for, and have been granted, Canadian citizenship (i.e., persons who have been issued a Canadian citizenship certificate) to self-report their citizenship as “Canada, by naturalization”. Notes: In the performance narrative, IRCC administrative data could be used to tell the story of citizenship from an operational and policy perspective. Information on age, gender, immigration stream, and country of origin of new citizens would be considered in order to explain changing trends. It is also important to note that calculations using IRCC’s administrative data will be based on the number of people admitted as permanent residents who took up citizenship. Figures from Statistics Canada indicate that in 2011, about 6,042,200 foreign-born people in Canada were eligible to acquire citizenship. Of these, just over 5,175,100, or 85.6%, reported that they had acquired Canadian citizenship. This naturalization rate in Canada was higher than in other major immigrant-receiving countries. In telling the story of the naturalization rate, it will be important to explain the reasons why some people choose not to naturalize.”


Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018

My updated charts reflecting the latest government EE report. Most noteworthy is the small downtick in visible minority and Indigenous executive numbers.

The report does not provide an explanation for this decline. This may be due in part to the greater use of non-advertised processes (see Non-advertised appointments on the rise in the public service, PSC data show).

I am awaiting for the release of  PSC data contrasting advertised/non-advertised/unknown staffing processes for 2018-19 to ascertain whether two-year data suggesting this impact of the new appointment policy is confirmed with three years data:

Source:  Annual Report Publication

Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2016 to 2017: 2016-17 data delayed

Highly unusual for the EE data not to be included in the annual report (can’t recall this happening in recent years). The report’s explanation suggests that this is collateral damage of the Phoenix pay system.

That being said, better to take the necessary time for data verification than publish inaccurate data:

The 2016 to 2017 annual report features a 10-year trend analysis of the representation of the 4 designated groups and reports on results of initiatives that advance employment equity, diversity and inclusion. (Data for 2016 to 2017 will be provided at a later date and included with the report as an annex.) Over the past 4 years, the representation of each employment equity group in the core public administration has exceeded workforce availability. However, gaps persist in some departments and in certain occupational groups. We will continue our efforts to close these gaps.

…. Statistical tables for the 2016 to 2017 fiscal year in 7 areas will be published following:

  • retrieval of data from the Phoenix pay system
  • reconciliation of data with sources from the Public Service Commission of Canada and from departments and agencies
  • validation of the accuracy of the data to be published

via Employment Equity in the Public Service of Canada for Fiscal Year 2016 to 2017 –

Public service needs better data to measure diversity, says task force

I have a mixed reaction to the task force report and its 44 recommendations.

On the one hand, I sympathize with the members in trying to provide practical and implementable recommendations on how to increase inclusion in the public service; on the other, I find so many of the recommendations either ignore or downplay the significant overall progress to date with the employment equity groups, advocate new structures rather than fixing the existing mechanisms, and proposes adding layers onto a public service already having difficulties managing existing obligations.

After all, historic and current numbers suggest self-identification and annual reporting have largely worked for the existing groups, particularly women and visible minorities.

The list itself reads more like a laundry list than a carefully thought out list of priorities.

Of the recommendations (and sub-recommendations), the following strike me as more important:

  1. preparing demographic and WFA (workforce availability) projections to reflect Canada’s diversity;
  2. collecting Census data on LGBTQ2 (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans(gender), queer, and two-spirit)+ people to determine;
  3. the proposed D&I (Diversity and inclusion) lens be developed further as the tool that the public service will adopt to (but the issue of possible duplication with  GBA+ needs to be addressed):a. support cultural transformation in the public service
    b. inform program design
    c. support policy development
    d. design and evaluate practices for people management
  4. the focus on unconscious or implicit bias in training, even if the pilot showed no evidence of bias in hiring, is nevertheless helpful across any number of areas;

The most questionable ones, IMO, are:

  1. reviewing the lexicon for identifying groups to modernize terminology for visible minorities and Indigenous peoples (allow public servants to spend endless amounts of time debating words rather than focussing on practical issues)
  2. developing a methodology to update employment equity WFA (workforce availability) estimates between censuses (too costly and not needed – we can live with the lag);
  3. including in WFA (workforce availability) estimates citizens and non-citizens who are living in Canada (hiring preference is granted to Canadian citizens and why should we set up a system that essentially suggests a greater representation problem than there is);
  4. Greater emphasis on departmental champions (how effective have existing champion networks been at effecting change, are we just adding another layer of talk shops?)


  1. establish a Commissioner for Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, modelled after the Commissioner of Official Languages (more thought needed given the potential high cost – $20 million for OL – against other priorities as well as how it would interact with existing albeit imperfect reporting and mechanisms such as EE,  multiculturalism, disability)

Hill Times article below:

Planning the future of diversity in the public service is not possible with out-of-date data, leaving certain groups unintentionally sidelined, a joint task force studying equity initiatives found, after a months-long examination of inclusion and diversity in the public service.

In its final report released Dec. 11—Building a Diverse and Inclusive Public Service—the joint union-management task force on diversity and inclusion made 44 recommendations surrounding four themes: people management, leadership and accountability, education and awareness, and the consideration of diversity and inclusion.

The demographics of Canada’s population are drastically shifting, but the workforce availability (WFA) estimates, which compare the percentage of minorities in the Canadian population to their percentage in the public service, use data from the census, which is only completed every five years.

Waheed Khan, a member of the Professional Institute of the Public Service (PIPSC) and a co-chair of the task force’s technical committee, said because of the old data, diversity goals could often be drastically skewed.

“Right now, the [estimates say there is] about 12 or 14 per cent visible minorities [in Canada]… but if you look at the current data it is over 22 per cent,” he said, adding that this means deputy ministers may think they’re doing fine if their department is 13.5 per cent, for example.

Projections say the visible-minority population could reach 37 per cent in the future, he said, meaning suddenly 13.5 per cent doesn’t cut it.

The workforce availability estimates also don’t track LGBTQ Canadians or permanent residents working as bureaucrats.

Outside studies indicate that between five and 13 per cent of the population identifies as LGBTQ, but 54 per cent prefer not to disclose their sexual orientation in the workplace for fear of retribution or rejection from their colleagues.

Therefore, the report recommends having WFA estimates updated between the censuses, collect census data on LGBTQ people, track the WFA for non-citizen bureaucrats, and prepare demographic and WFA projections to reflect Canada’s diversity. Departments should then establish diversity goals based on that data.

The task force was created in November 2016 and included representatives from PIPSC, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), as well as Treasury Board, Health Canada, and Justice Canada, among others. It had a one-year mandate to study ways to “strengthen diversity and inclusion in the government,” according to the Treasury Board’s website.

Diversity and inclusion policies “enable the public service to leverage the range of perspectives of our country’s people to help address today’s complex challenges,” reads the report, and creativity, problem solving, and innovation are improved with varied perspectives.

Treasury Board is reviewing the report and determining how it wants to move forward with implementation. It did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Put people who understand diversity in top roles: report

Leadership and the way people are managed is the start of the shift, said Mr. Khan. The task force spoke to public servants through 20 focus group interviews, as well as an online survey that garnered over 12,000 responses. It also did research on provincial equity initiatives, as well as the Australian and British bureaucracies. There are about 262,000 public servants in Canada.

Establishing a Centre of Expertise on Diversity and Inclusion will help senior management implement policies to foster a healthier work environment, recommended the task force. It would determine better ways to communicate about equity issues; outline possible challenges or barriers; and work with other related groups to ensure consistency within the bureaucracy.

Mr. Khan said those who can manage diverse teams, such as those consisting of men and women, or different racial groups or cultures, encourages equity and so the bureaucracy needs to value that skill. This could be implemented by making it a job requirement, for example.

Equity groups—which include women, LGBTQ sexual orientations, Indigenous populations, those with disabilities, and visible minorities—are often expected to conform with the majority, he said, but good management can reduce the harassment and discrimination they face, allowing them to speak up more often.

“You should also have this intercultural effectiveness as a competency for people who want to move on to managerial positions,” he said, so that power dynamics begin to shift in an office.

Those who are included in the definition of equity groups often face more discrimination, he said.

Along with valuing the management of diverse teams as a skill set, the task force recommended hiring boards and other sources of authority be staffed with people from diverse backgrounds. As well, it recommends the creation of a Commissioner for Employment Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, modelled after the Commissioner of Official Languages. Accountability ensures action, Mr. Khan said.

Hiring practices were a big focus for the task force, said PSAC human rights officer Seema Lamba, who was also on the technical committee, as equity group members often feel they are included or excluded because of their status.

“Respondents don’t necessarily feel that the staffing process that they’ve experienced has been fair or transparent,” she said. “There needs to be more accountability around the staffing process, as well as oversight and monitoring.”

She added that since 2005, Treasury Board has increasingly delegated its authority in overseeing diversity programs, and what PSAC has seen is inconsistency across departments. One department may do a decent job around accommodation, said Ms. Lamba, but others might not.

Blind hiring practices—where any details about a person’s identity are removed—were recommended in the report. The Treasury Board Secretariat began testing name-blind recruitment between April and October in six federal departments, including National Defence and Global Affairs Canada, although 17 departments ended up participating. In a blog post Jan. 23, Treasury Board President Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, N.S.) said the experiment did not uncover bias, but the report notes that participants were aware they were participating in a name-blind recruitment project, which could have affected their assessment.

Diversity and inclusion lens, mandatory training recommended

When someone wants to develop an infrastructure project, such as a bridge, they have to do an environmental impact assessment, said Mr. Khan. It allows stakeholders to understand the effect of their actions and put mitigation strategies in place, if necessary.

A diversity and inclusion lens would do much the same thing for government policies, programs, and people management strategies. That way they can understand how these policies affect different groups.

The lens is an education tool, but the report also recommends mandatory diversity and inclusion training for all new employees and managers, and for equity conversations to be meaningful discussed in other training. Often it’s not that people are trying to be discriminatory toward equity groups, said Mr. Khan, it’s just that they haven’t been educated to understand other perspectives.

via Public service needs better data to measure diversity, says task force – The Hill Times – The Hill Times

No sign of bias against government job-seekers with ethnic-sounding names, pilot project finds

Given the overall employment equity numbers, and how representation at both the all employee and executive levels has continued to increase, not overly surprising but nevertheless helpful to have tested for bias:

Hiding ethnic-sounding names from resumes has no real bearing on who’s picked from the pile of applications for jobs in the federal public service, according to a pilot project on blind hiring.

A report released Tuesday by the Public Service Commission shows visible minorities were short-listed at roughly the same rate through a name-blind recruitment process (46 per cent) as through a traditional process (47 per cent).

“For visible minorities, results indicated no significant effect on the screening decisions of applications,” the report concludes.

The federal government launched the name-blind hiring pilot project last April to reduce bias in recruitment based on the names and ethnic origins of potential candidates.

In a blog post today, Treasury Board president Scott Brison said the pilot project aimed to see if unconscious bias was undermining hiring processes and the government’s efforts to build a more diverse public service.

He called the pilot “ground-breaking” and says it’s in line with the government’s focus on innovation and experimentation.

“The project did not uncover bias, but the findings do contribute to a growing body of knowledge,” he wrote.

“They provide us with insights to further explore in our steadfast support of diversity and inclusion in the public service; two critical characteristics of an energized, innovative and effective workforce, able to meet the demands of our ever-changing world.”

17 departments participated

The pilot project included 17 departments and 27 external hiring processes between April and October 2017. It had a sample of 2,226 applicants, including 685 members of visible minorities (just under 31 per cent.)

Jobs were in the scientific and professional, administrative and foreign service, technical and administrative support, and operational fields.

Applications in the blind process had the name, citizenship, country of origin, mailing address, spoken languages, references to religion, and names of educational institutions removed. The objective was to determine if applicants with ethnic-sounding names were disadvantaged in the screening process.

While the findings did not reveal any bias, the report notes that reviewers were aware they were participating in the blind recruitment project, and that “this awareness could have potentially affected their assessment.”

Because the number of candidates who self-declared as Indigenous (73, or three per cent), or disabled (102, or five per cent,) was small, the analysis was limited to visible minorities.

Among the participating departments were National Defence; Natural Resources; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; Global Affairs, the RCMP and Statistics Canada.

Similar studies

The report notes other studies on blind hiring have had mixed results.

A 2011 study in the Australian Public Service found that de-identifying applications at the short-listing stage did not appear to help promote diversity.

“In fact, when all candidate’s information was made available, reviewers discriminated in favour of female and visible minority candidates,” the report reads.

Benefits of name-blind recruitment may be partly dependent on the context of the organization, including whether discrimination is present in the hiring process and whether the organization has policies aimed at improving diversity.

In October 2015, the U.K. Civil Service implemented name-blind recruitment to reduce unconscious bias and boost diversity, but no systematic review of the impact has been carried out yet.

via No sign of bias against government job-seekers with ethnic-sounding names, pilot project finds – Politics – CBC News

Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring

This pilot will provide some real world data to the existing blind cv studies that have been conducted by Oreopoulos and Reitz.

Wisely, the government has chosen to pilot this in a number of departments with different representation challenges, as shown in the table below:

As the government has largely met the goal of being representative of the population it serves, implicit bias may be less of a factor in the government sector. Representation is somewhat less at more senior levels, where implicit bias is likely less of an issue given that candidates are known.

It would be ironic indeed if the pilot, intended to test for bias against visible minorities, would show a bias for visible minorities, given some of the “over-representation” in some departments. In any case, a valuable exercise.

Ottawa has launched a pilot project to reduce biases in the hiring of federal civil services through what is billed “name-blind” recruitment, a practice long urged by employment equity advocates.

The Liberal government’s move came on the heels of a joint study by University of Toronto and Ryerson University earlier this year that found job candidates with Asian names and Canadian qualifications are less likely to be called for interviews than counterparts with Anglo-Canadian names even if they have a better education.

“It’s not just an issue of concern for me but for a lot of people. A number of people have conducted research in Canada, the U.K., Australia and the U.S. that showed there is a subliminal bias in people reading too much into names,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who first delivered the idea to Parliament last year as a rookie MP from Toronto.

“Name-blind recruitment could help ensure the public service reflects the people it serves by helping to reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process.”

Some companies in the private sector, including banks and accounting firms, have already adopted the practice, which removes names from application forms in order to stop “unconscious bias” against potential recruits from minority backgrounds.

In the United Kingdom, the government now requires name-blind applications for university admissions service and other applications for organizations such as the civil service, British Broadcasting Company and local government.

U of T sociology professor Jeffrey Reitz said the initiative is an important step forward but cautioned officials they must consult independent experts in developing the process and reviewing the results to make sure it is done correctly.

To conduct name-blind screening, he said, recruiters must remove any information on a resumé that would reveal the ethnicity of the person, such as name, birth place and membership in an association before coding the candidates in the talent pool.

“If the government is serious about it, they need to make the process transparent and allow researchers to look at the new procedures and the results,” said Reitz, a co-author of the Canadian study on name discrimination against Asians.

Debbie Douglas of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants said she hopes the pilot could benefit other minority groups, given studies have shown that white English- and French-speaking able-bodied women have been the primary beneficiaries of current employment equity programs.

“We hope as the government moves proactively to ensure diversity in hiring it will review the existing program and strengthen it to ensure the intentional inclusion of racialized and indigenous job seekers,” said Douglas.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison, who championed Hussen’s initial idea, said he welcomed the opportunity to explore new ways of recruiting talent for the public service.

“A person’s name should never be a barrier to employment. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is critical to building an energized, innovative and effective public service that is better able to meet the demands of an ever-changing world,” said Brison at the launch of the pilot at Ryerson Thursday.

The six departments participating in the pilot include Department of National Defence; Global Affairs Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Public Services and Procurement Canada; Environment and Climate Change Canada; and the Treasury Board Secretariat. A report on the pilot is expected in October.

Using data from a recent large-scale Canadian employment study that examined interview callback rates for resumés with Asian and Anglo names, U of T and Ryerson researchers found Asian-named applicants consistently received fewer calls regardless of the size of the companies involved.

Although a master’s degree can improve Asian candidates’ chances of being called, it does not close the gap and their prospects don’t even measure up to those of Anglo applicants with undergraduate qualifications.

Compared to applicants with Anglos names, Asian-named applicants with all-Canadian qualifications had 20.1 per cent fewer calls from organizations with 500 or more employees, and 39.4 per cent and 37.1 per cent fewer calls, respectively, from medium-sized and small employers.

Source: Ottawa pilots ‘name-blind’ recruitment to reduce ‘unconscious bias’ in hiring | Toronto Star